In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought that I would post/re-post some delicious Irish recipes. St. Patty’s Day is special in our house because it also happens to be my husband’s birthday (hence the nickname I gave him) so while I personally don’t have so much as an Irish hair on my head, I have made a valiant effort to research and learn some traditional Irish fare. First up is Shepherd’s Pie!
First off, I need to thank my buddy Kari for putting this back on my radar. Even though I’m married to an Irishman, I completely forgot that shepherd’s pie is delicious, affordable and makes plenty of leftovers.
Before I embarked on my shepherd pie making journey, I asked my husband what he recalled the most about the best shepherd’s pie he ever ate. His response was flavorful meat. Six shepherd’s pies later, this is the recipe that both boys ate with gusto. Here’s what you need:
1 lb. ground beef (you could do any ground meat here)
1 carrot, sliced into rounds
1 large onion
1 packet brown gravy mix
a scant 1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
2 Tbs. pasta sauce
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 package instant mashed potatoes (feel free to make your own).
a handful of peas (optional)
Preheat your oven at 325 degrees. I usually go ahead and get the mashed potatoes and carrots going. For the carrots, simply slice them thin and put them in a sauce pan of simmering water. Cook them until soft (about 5-10 minutes). Follow the directions on your instant mashed potatoes (I usually get ones that have butter and herbs already incorporated), but it usually consists of boiling water, adding potatoes and stirring. That’s it.
For the meat, you’re going to need a large, deep saute pan. Add a little bit of olive oil and throw your onions in there. Give them about a 5 minute headstart and then add in your ground beef.
While your ground beef is browning, add your gravy packet to 1 cup of water and dissolve.
Once the meat is browned, add in the flour…
and your gravy…
and the pasta sauce (whatever you have in the fridge is fine)…
and the Worchestershire sauce. I usually add about a tablespoon or two less than a 1/4 cup.
Ok folks, just mix it all together, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. You will notice it thicken noticeably.
Time to assemble – first add your meat in the bottom of your casserole dish.
Then, drain your carrots and add both them and the peas on top of the meat mixture. The Irishman doesn’t care for peas particularly, but he likes the color they add and claims that, “It just isn’t shepherd’s pie without peas.” Who am I to argue with that? So, I just add a handful of frozen peas on top of the carrots.
Next, I spread the mashed potatoes over the top using a spoon and my fingers to get it evenly on there. I’m usually a mashed potato purist, but I have to say that instant potatoes have come quite far in the last 10 years or so (which is when I last had them).
Finally, sprinkle on your 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
Now, pop it in the oven at 325 and bake for 20 minutes. And that’s it! Take it out of the oven and serve.